I’ve always wondered about Krave. When I think of Krave the Band, I think of sexy sexy costumes, glamorous and gorgeous masqueraders, VIP sections (serious VIP), and being a very modern international carnival band. This year, Krave has produced private sections in Jamaica with Xaymaca, St. Maarten, St. Lucia,Bermuda, Labor Day, Miami and this year will be at Notting Hill with Bacchanalia Mas Band. There appears to be serious expansion going on and I wondered about that amongst other things. Naturally, I wanted to interview someone on the team to find out more. A long interesting conversation with Director of Krave, Avery Hackett followed.
I remember coming across Krave in 2015, but when did Krave begin? Why did you start it up? We started in 2013. Tracey Boyce and myself are the owners. It’s kind of crazy. To take it back, when I first started, I had a company called Fireball Energy Drink. I was doing some parties and promoting the drink and happened to be sponsoring a variety of different bands in Barbados at the time. I had been sponsoring bands from 2010- 2013 with the energy drink on the road. In 2012, Camille Mc Donald from America’s Top model came in, my wife came in and some of my fireball models came in and they all decided that they wanted model for this particular band in Barbados called Fantasy. And at the end of the season, the band which my wife modeled for was called Zulu in Fantasy. We found out that Zulu was going to start their own band from Fantasy. That was when it all began. What we decided to do at that point was to do a fireball section in Zulu to promote the energy drink. When we started, all we wanted to do was to have a section to
promote the drink.
Our section happened to be the best section in Zulu that year. I guess that’s when the drama began because Rihanna’s friends all rushed to the band launch as they all heard that this fireball section was really nice. I think in Barbados that was the first time there were spider panties. So we had spider panties, wire bras, it was really sexy. So it caused a stir at the time. We were still in talks of doing our private section with our VIP truck. All of a sudden we got that call ‘Hey we are going to make a costume for Rihanna that is similar to yours but not yours.’ So if we have the VIP section, Rihanna is a VIP, how are you telling us that Rihanna is going to be in a different truck and in a different costume? Our contract stipulated that we will be putting money in the band to create a VIP section, a VIP costume and the one VIP we have, you put them somewhere else. So that created an issue. We had a great time on the road, we had about a hundred people with us and our truck. We got through the day and we had to make a decision at that point. Do we continue? Do we go to another band or do we start pour own band? And because the relationship had gotten so bad that season, we just thought that we are going to create our own band.
So Krave was born. Is just by chance that this started in Barbados? No it started in Barbados because we are both from Barbados. We both live in the states. We met in Trinidad and we hooked up in Barbados that same year but we both have a love for Barbados. To give her credit, this was more Tracey’s idea. Me, I was just trying to sell an energy drink at the time. That’s all I cared about ‘How do I sell this drink?’ She modeled, and then she said by the way I can make a costume. She said I think I can do better. Her vision was ‘Give me the money and let me create costumes. I said ‘Ok, as long as it is going to sell the drink.’
So what’s up with the drink now? Is it still going? [Laughter] Well no because the energy drink market diminished and I found out that to have a band was more lucrative and easier to manage than the energy drink. So I gave up the energy drink. We didn’t do a business plan, we didn’t come up with a strategy, we didn’t investigate how a band would work, and
we didn’t do any of that. We just knew that she wanted to make a costume, I wanted to sell a drink at the time, let use the band to do it.
What made you decide to bring your brand to London? And what made you decide on Bacchanlia? Well our business partner is Douglas and we do business in every other location. So it’s just a natural evolution. We have been invited to London for years now. But we did not want to take that risk without someone of Douglas’ skills and quality on board with us. We didn’t want to be miles away from home without a support system.
When I think of Krave costumes, I think of Sexy. Sexy, sexy. You have to be a very confident woman to be in a Krave costume. Am I getting it wrong? Well I think you are getting it wrong to a certain degree. We consider ourselves the band that brings the sexy appeal to anything that we put our hands on. So we brought in the lady from American Top Model. We brought in Gracia from Love and Hip Hop. We have been known to bring that caliber of ladies to the band. So it just carried over into Krave. But we cater to all shapes and sizes. But we are best known for the sexy women that we have brought to represent us.
When you are thinking of who will be representing your brand, your models, are you looking for a certain look? Well we like to look to cover all ends of the spectrum. Doesn’t matter. When we know that we have a launch coming up and that we have a certain theme, a certain look we are going for, we try to find talent that will fit that look. Not just talent, new faces. Faces that haven’t been seen. Sometimes it bites us in the butt in that we don’t call on the normal or the ones that are in everything. We like to go out to create a new niche, discover a new person someone with a new talent. That’s what we strive on. We call ourselves the little people band. People might not know that. Cause I am from a little place called liquid village and my wife is from the country in Barbados. So we are not really in that circle of people that came from money. So we like to give a chance to people who would normally have those opportunities. A lot of things that we do is about giving a chance to people who have something to offer but who might get that chance. And that goes down to our DJs that we have. It gives us a sense of pride that we have touched people in that way.
Is there something that differentiates the Krave road experience from other bands on the road?
Well I like to say we are the inventors of the VIP experience. Other people have said that they are VIP But I thought when we did it the first year, we took it to another level. We built a trailer, the double decker bus. Downstairs was AC, upstairs was open bar. We bought in physical chefs to actually cook food on the road. We served lobster, shrimp, all sorts of special dishes.That’s what masqueraders got. The drinks; we got champagne, mimosas. So we built our band around the VIP experience. We cater to the VIPS. So if you are in VIP, you are living your best life. You have servers, we really go all out. We will be remembered for doing something different for carnival. People will say it doesn’t make sense to serve champagne on the road. We serve champagne to all of our masqueraders and they loved it. People said it does not make financial sense, but we found a way for it to make sense. People will pay extra for that VIP experience and it is working. Every year it is sold out. We have to consider having another truck this year. It has something that has worked.
How big is your team right now? You must have a big team? Actually we don’t. Our inner circle, core team might be about seven people. From the operational side, my wife handles the design and I handle everything else. Has that seven changed over the six years? Well the majority of the help is needed in Barbados for the actual band. That is where the majority of the help comes from. Now that we are branching out into the international forum, moving from place to place we can manage that with 3-4 people based on the arrangements. I actually gave up my day job, to allow myself to travel, to deal with the locations. That must have been a scary move for you… Well for me I was already in sales so I had a lot of flexibility. But now that I am flying out into six countries, I can’t go off on an extended weekend every weekend.
Let’s go back to the designs of Krave. Initially it was just your wife. Are there more designers now?
Well when it started, my wife doesn’t really call herself a designer. She would go to the designer that we had and would sit at his house all night long and say exactly how she wants things. And I used to tell her ‘If you are telling them how to make it, doesn’t that make you the designer?’ And she would say ‘No I am just giving them the input’. In the end, she came out and said, yeah I am the designer and initially, people didn’t believe her. But when they saw the designs coming out year after year, they said ‘Ok I guess you really were the designer’. 2016-17 she didn’t want to ask for any help
because of past experiences. In 2018, because I understood the distribution process, I told her you need to have additional designers on board just to take some of the work off you. She allowed new up and coming designers to show their work as well.
At the moment, how many core designers have you got? We have I’d say one of the most important people in carnival on our team from Trinidad, Douglas John. We’ve had added others. We had some protégées who are now designing in their own right. This year, we will be bring own three new up and coming designers. We have watched them for some time so we want to give them the opportunity to showcase their talents to the world.
Let’s think about what you are doing know with the brand. You guys have been doing a lot of expansion into other countries. What prompted that? Well when we first started that, it was prompted in Jamaica. The guy that owned Xaymaca, they jumped with us one year. They invited me back one year to Jamaica to jump with them in their section. We built a business relationship there. I was thinking of putting Krave in one of the bands and asked around in Jamaica. A week later Xaymaca called us and said ‘We’re having our own band. Why not come do a section with us?’ And that’s how that started with us being branched out of Barbados. We were doing that and I thought that’s fine, that’s good. Everybody wants to do parties, wants to do events. But I am coming from the perspective that I want to perfect Krave, how that whole thing works. To perfect it, for me I need to look at it and see how all the other countries operate. Whether we just go in there and join a band so see how it works. Krave was born in the year of Instagram. We were one of the first bands that utilised Instagram. Our people went out and really figured out how this Instagram thing works. Before you knew it we were leading on followers on Instagram. The other bands ahead of us did not start until two years later but that’s because they are much bigger than us. So they had a head start. People were asking us for our branding because it’s very powerful. We have 40Kfollowers on Instagram for a band. They are only two bands ahead of us. They knew that they would get exposure. They wanted our marketability. That was the first two years. In 2018, tribe invited us to come aboard. They wanted us to come abroad because you have these amazing costumes and you have a marketing platform. We were honoured by that opportunity because here is another opportunity for me to learn from a band.
So for you it is about ongoing learning… It’s about ongoing learning, perfecting things. When we had our hiccup, I was out there with a measuring tape measuring the height of the bar. Cause I had complaints that the bar was too high. I was in Trinidad. Some were higher than mine, some were lower than mine. Why a high bar? Simple things that you don’t think of you will learn being in those situations. So why do you use a hard box as oppose to a cake box for costumes?
Currently, how many islands is there a representation of Krave? There’s Barbados, Jamaica, St Maarten, Bermuda, St. Lucia, Notting Hill, Labour Day and Miami. Right now we are still analysing Labour Day and Miami. Is there any particular day where you would love to see Krave? There are a couple more but the timing is what will keep us back from doing everything. We think of countries where we have a month between markets. What we have done now, the sections are private sections.
How do you guarantee the quality of the costumes in those countries are up to your standard? Do you make the costumes and ship them over or will you have a production team in those countries? We have our own squad. In every market that we will be in Douglas will be there to oversee the feather production and my wife will be there to oversee the costume production. All costumes will be quality checked out her in Barbados. Then they will be shipped out or carried out. There may be one or two things to fix at our location but for the most part everything is intact. Feather work is done on location. That’s how we do it and we keep our figures to a manageable figure.
What is a manageable figure for you? For me a manageable figure is 100 pieces or less for a private
From your perspective, what makes a carnival band work? You have to understand the system. You have to understand the flow of the band. Most bands fail on distribution day and we have had our wars with that as well. And you fail in distribution because you don’t the process of production. I had to understand distribution and work backwards from there. If distribution is bad or poor, you can’t focus on the road experience because you are spending too much time focusing on the distribution experience. And the distribution is off because the production is off. The production is off because the design concepts are off or the options. It’s all of the little pieces. I thought if I could understand all the little pieces that affects distribution, if I fix that, then everything else will fall into place. So that’s what I did. I put distribution as my focus point and then I can focus on the road experience. The road experience is like having a party. You have the caterer’s, everything is subbed out; security, staff, trucks, food. Once you know who you are working with and establish that relationship with your vendors, that starts to work like clockwork. Same people, same
thing, they get used to their job. From my experience, from what I have seen, the distribution process throws bands off.
Once the distribution is bad, the masqueraders are not happy and it has a very serious negative vibe on the road. It has a ripple effect. They are pissed about everything, they are pissed about everything on the road because they are still pissed about waiting for their costume for 10 hours or not getting the costume they want for the road. If you can control that and have a happy masquerade, the road experience will have a breeze.
How do you rate the carnivals other than Trinidad and Barbados in the Caribbean? I don’t think there is such a thing as a small island anymore. We showed a lot of small islands what Barbados was doing and what it takes to change that mentality. It’s like a blue print to it. Bring in the hot designers, hot designs, big name bands, big name promoters and big name events and then you make your island a big island.
Isn’t there a danger of all the carnivals being the same if everyone is using the same blueprint?
Wouldn’t they lose their sense of uniqueness? It’s one of two things. Even though all carnivals might look the same, each island has a different feel to it. The feel you get in Jamaica, will not be the feel you get in St.Maarten. And that’s where we as a brand hold our own. By no stretch of the imagination are we the biggest band. We are well advertised because of social media. But we definitely attract a lot of newbies to carnival. If some have never heard of soca, they have probably heard of Krave. Therefore that person, they all have different likes. They will want to go St.Maarten just because of the plane going over your heard. They will want to go to Barbados because of the beaches and Rihanna. They want to go to Jamaica because ‘Kingston I always wanted to go to Kingston’. Every island has a different flow to their carnival. We can’t put all the same parties and events but you don’t have to go to the same carnival over and over now. You can diversify and try a different carnival in a different location and that is what is starting to happen.
Every one now has the ability to travel compared to 20 years ago. 15 years ago, people won’t travel. I live in the states so people would travel from state to state. But now this generation, everybody has a passport and want to try something new. You don’t have to go to Trinidad every year. You can go to Trinidad, you can go to Jamaica, and you can go to Barbados. You can try somewhere different each year. And the way I look at it is if I have a 9-5 job in the states, I only have a two week vacation. If I have a two week vacation, I don’t spend my two weeks in the same country every year. If I can go experience carnival in a different island that makes more sense to me. This year I’m in Barbados, next year I’m in St. Lucia, next year I’m in St. Maarten. I’m still doing travelling, I’m still experiencing soca and carnival which I like but I also get my vacation in somewhere different. That’s why I needed to diversify. My masqueraders said ‘I love you to death Averey, but I only have to week’s vacation, I can’t kill my two weeks’ vacation in Barbados’. But if you put me somewhere else, I’ll try it. I’ll visit you somewhere else. So I thought, ‘Ok. So let me put my brand somewhere else and see what happens’.
Has your vision for Krave changed from what it was originally? It’s constantly changing as when I started, I had no idea what running a band was about. I had only played mas two other times before that. I was never really fully into mas like that. It evolve into me thinking ‘Hey this is an actual business’. 2015 was my wake up call. How so? In 2014, I was still thinking ‘Yeah, it’s a first year band, I was still going to parties, I’ll let you take care of the costumes, and there is nothing to it.’ I wasn’t thinking of contribution, logistics of the road. And then we had 500 people. And that wasn’t so bad. In 2015, we had 1100 people. Everything changed. I realised that I couldn’t go to parties. It was a nightmare for me because I didn’t understand all that was involved in the making of a band. So there was no more partying for me in 2015. In 2016, I was like ‘Ok I’m 100% committed to understanding in how the whole band thing works.’ And do you think you have a full understanding now? Oh yeah, I have a great understanding of how bands work, how they are supposed to work, what makes them work, what it takes to be successful as a band.
What’s next for you guys? Well we are in Barbados right now so everything stops. We have gotten What’s next for you guys? Well we are in Barbados right now so everything stops. We have gotten everyone out of the way now so it just focusing on getting ready for the launch. We will circle back to others but Barbados is our focus for now.
I learnt so much and enjoyed having this conversation with Avery, more about the business of carnival and different ways of working. I can’t wait to see what Bacchanlia and Krave bring for London!
All pics were taken from the Krave instagram page and with the authorisation of Avery Hackett.